Living on a Student Budget: The do’s, the don’ts

Let’s be honest, being a student is expensive. You not only have to worry about your living and food costs, but also tuition, textbooks, health insurance and transportation costs.

While going back to school can open many doors to a great future, it can also bring with it debt. The easiest way to keep your debt in check is to budget your spend. Here’s our list of do’s and don’ts:

Do keep it real: Realism is your best friend when it comes to budgeting. Your budget depends on how well you know your circumstances. You need to calculate exactly how much you owe vs. how much you can spend. This will help you determine what you can spend and what you can save. For example, maybe take out 3 times a week as a student isn’t a viable option. Maybe that money is better spent on your school supplies.

Don’t excessively limit yourself: Don’t stop going out and having fun just because you’re on a budget. Definitely, don’t completely stop doing the things you love. You can still enjoy your life on a budget.

Do save on certain things: If you normally shop from a expensive grocery store, try and find one with similar quality and lower prices. When you start saving on little things, be it grocery, clothes, textbooks and so on, you will quickly see a little increase in your spending/savings budget.

Don’t make excuses when you fumble: You’re only human, you will make mistakes. Some months you will overspend. Don’t make excuses for yourself. Instead learn from your mistakes and try and do better the next time. You will get a hang of it, eventually. That, we can promise.

Do make a budget: While it is great to have a number in your head, it will feel a whole lot more real on paper. When you make a budget and categorize your spend, you will know exactly where you spend the most money. With this knowledge, you can then work on spending less in that category, thereby increasing your savings and decreasing your debt.

Don’t do it alone: Budgeting can be a daunting task. It can be very stressful but you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Luckily, there are free apps in place to help you get through it. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides an online tool to users to help them create a budget and save more. It is free and analyzes individual budgets based on personal circumstances. The tool doesn’t ask you to identify yourself.

November is the National Financial Literacy Month in Canada. It is a month dedicated to ensure the financial well-being of Canadians. Take that extra step towards managing your finances today, for a better tomorrow!

If you are interested in going back to school but your financial situation stands in the way, get in touch with our Student Financial Administrators to discuss what options you have to pay for school.